Calling all artists, creative spirits, and innovative thinkers – Muse GR is a new, interactive art gallery that will be a blank canvas for all your artistic endeavors. Combining photography, art, education, and community events, Muse GR was founded to inspire and invite artists to learn from one another and collaborate with other creatives around West Michigan.
After an unsuccessful search for a studio to do photography, Stephen and Taylor Smith decided to create their own. However, they wanted it to be more than just a normal photography studio. As the co-owners of Muse GR, Stephen and Taylor Smith desired to provide a space for artists in the community that would “inspire others to unapologetically create,” said Stephen Smith.
While searching for the ideal location for Muse GR, the Smiths were uncertain about the building at 727 Leonard Street NW, which had been a rundown, adult bookstore for over 50 years. However, as soon as they stepped inside, they knew it was a perfect match.
Not only was the size of the building exactly what they needed, but the location was also perfect because it allowed them to be in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids and as they toured the building, they could visualize their business launching there.
After renovating the building and modernizing it with a chic new look, the pair hope people viewing it are inspired by the change and renovation. “To me, the art has a different impact on the people who are viewing it because they see what the building was and what it is now. We want people to be a part of Muse GR and also feel empowered by transformation,” said Taylor Smith.
By providing unique props and backgrounds as well as allowing local artists to design various layouts and environments, this creative space will never be the same. Muse GR aims to be a dynamic, one-of-a-kind studio that will change and grow with the community members’ visions and aspirations. “One month it may look like a comic book on the inside and the next month it may look like a jungle. We want local artists to continue to help us push the envelope,” said Stephen Smith.
Along with artists who can push the boundaries and think outside of the box, Muse GR hopes to be a haven for any artist who feels discriminated against or excluded from more traditional venues. “We want contemporary artists as well as artists of color. We personally feel like we want to provide opportunities to artists that feel like they have been shut out,” said Stephen Smith.
Not only is it Muse GR’s goal to be a respected and supported art gallery on both the local and national levels, but it is also a goal to be a place where individuals can feel a sense of belonging and comfort. “We want Muse GR to house a creative community where people feel comfortable creating,” said Taylor Smith.
Muse GR is located at 727 Leonard Street NW and is available to rent. To stay informed about events happening within the community on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, visit Muse GR’s website or follow its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
*Photos courtesy of Muse GR